Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed more than two dozen bills on Friday that were passed by Republicans in the state's legislature, including a proposal that would have established a parental bill of rights.
Evers, a former state superintendent of schools, wrote in his veto message that "parents are the first and best teachers our kids have," but that the parental bill of rights is aimed at "dividing our schools."
"Politicians on both sides of the aisle have to stop using our kids as political pawns," Evers wrote. "I am vetoing this bill in its entirety because I object to sowing division in our schools, which only hurts our kids and learning in our classrooms."
The legislation, Assembly Bill 963, would have codified several parental rights, including the right to "determine the names and pronouns used for the child while at
school," the right to "access any education-related information regarding the child," and the right to "opt out of a class or instructional materials for reasons based
on either religion or personal conviction."
Rebecca Kleefisch, the former lieutenant governor of Wisconsin who is now running to unseat Evers, accused the governor of siding with education officials over parents.
"As long as he’s governor, he will never stop putting the education establishment ahead of kids and their parents," she tweeted Saturday after the bill was vetoed.
Other Republicans also took aim at the veto, with the Republican Governors Association saying that the move could backfire on Evers in November's election.
"While it’s not surprising that Evers vetoed a bill he called radical before even seeing the text, it’s disappointing he would refuse to take the time to listen to parents’ concerns before nixing the bill," RGA Spokeswoman Maddie Anderson said in a statement. "Evers continues to put the interests of the teachers’ unions that fund his campaign ahead of parents and their children’s education."
Evers vetoed several other pieces of legislation passed by Republicans on Friday, including bills that would have prevented COVID-19 vaccine mandates, made it hard to obtain unemployment benefits, and banned the teaching of critical race theory in the state's public higher education system.
Most of the bills passed without any Democratic support. Republicans do not have the support to override Evers' vetoes.